Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Common Selfheal - Prunella vulgaris   L.
Members of Lamiaceae:
Members of Prunella with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Lamiales » Family Lamiaceae
DistributionOccurs statewide, though a handful of holes in the range in the Coastal Plain. Nonetheless, probably occurs in all 100 counties. Weakley (2018) and many references consider that there are two varieties in NC and the East, one native and one from Eurasia. Some references had simply assumed the entire species was introduced from Eurasia, but others such as Fernald (1950), Gleason (1952), and RAB (1968) do make note of a native taxon of this circumboreal species. Note: At the present time, it is not possible to give detailed ranges for each of the two varieties, as most collections have not made the varietal distinction. Nonetheless, Weakley's (2018) range map shows the native taxon (var. lanceolata) as common across the state and the introduced one (var. vulgaris) as rare in each province, but this might not be accurate at all.

This is an abundant and wide-ranging species across essentially all of North America, ranging south to northern FL. It also occurs in Eurasia (the nominate variety -- vulgaris).
AbundanceVery common to abundant in the Mountains, Piedmont, and much of the Coastal Plain. Not common in much of the eastern Coastal Plain, quite scarce on and near the Outer Banks and much of the Pamlimarle Peninsula. Note again that this abundance is for the full species, and distinctions of abundance between the native and non-native varieties is not well known.
HabitatThis species prefers somewhat damp ground, in partial shade, but as it is weedy (native and/or non-native populations), it has a great array of habitats. It grows best along the margins of bottomland forests, but it occurs in ditches, wet meadows, pastures, powerline clearings, and vacant lots. It seldom grows in the shade of forests, as least not in deep shade.
PhenologyBlooms nearly throughout the growing season, from April to frost, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is a very familiar low-growing species, usually found in dense colonies. The native variety is erect, rarely decumbent, and reaches about 10-12 inches tall; the non-native one is mostly decumbent or creeping, to about 12 inches long, but much shorter (to about 6 inches) in height. It has only a few pairs of opposite stem leaves, slightly serrated in each taxon. The native taxon has leaves about 2 inches long and about 1/3 as wide, lanceolate to oblong in shape, with a cuneate (tapered) leaf base; whereas the exotic one has leaves mostly about 1.5 inches long, ovate to oblong, and thus wider, about 1/2 as wide as long, with a broadly rounded leaf base. Thus, the native taxon is a taller and narrower-leaved one, with the exotic taxon typically creeping or low-growing and with wider leaves. For each, the inflorescence is a very dense flower cluster about 1-1.5 inches high with several layers or rows of flowers in each head, one cluster per stem or branch. The violet-blue flowers, with some white, are each about 1/2-inch long, several in bloom at a time in each cluster, facing outward, with the upper lip (violet-blue) being a hood and the lower lip mostly white. This is a very easily found species, but much more information is needed to sort out the ranges and abundances of the two taxa in the state. Hopefully, the native taxon is present statewide.
Taxonomic CommentsSee above; both a native taxon and a non-native one are found in the state.

Other Common Name(s)Heal-all
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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